THREE IN A ROW: Dion Shaw, Arlene Blencowe, head coach James Te Huna and Mike Winkeljohn celebrate
THREE IN A ROW: Dion Shaw, Arlene Blencowe, head coach James Te Huna and Mike Winkeljohn celebrate "Angerfist's" Bellator 233 triumph over Leslie Smith.

Gympie fighter outlasts former UFC star in 3-round war

GYMPIE-bred MMA star Arlene Blencowe weathered a ferocious storm to overcome former UFC contender Leslie Smith and earn a third straight win at Bellator 233 over the weekend.

The 36-year-old stayed cool under pressure in the hard-fought unanimous decision victory, leaning on her strong striking game and effective jab while maintaining distance to finish ahead 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards at Oklahoma’s WinStar World Casino and Resort on Saturday morning local time.

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“Angerfist” didn’t have it all her own way, enduring multiple flurries from Smith when the latter pressed inside and let fly from close range.

Blencowe’s latest triumph follows a record 22-second knockout of Amanda Bell in July, making it three wins on the trot since last September and six from her last seven fights.

Blencowe told MMA Junkie she was grateful to come out on top in a “tough” contest.

“I think it was a little bit closer than a unanimous, but obviously I’m glad the judges saw my striking and I guess Leslie’s face sort of speaks for itself too,” Blencowe said.

“Tough, awesome fight. A lot of credit to her. She brought the fight, that’s for sure.

“We were expecting Leslie to push forward. We knew she would take my punches, she’s a tough girl. It was pretty much was exactly how we thought she was going to fight.”

Now boasting a 13-7 career MMA record and arguably the hottest run of form in the women’s featherweight division, Blencowe’s win over Smith opens the door for a shot at redemption – and her still unrealised dream of capturing Bellator gold.

She narrowly lost her lone title shot to incumbent champion Julia Budd by split decision in December 2017, and now Blencowe will be watching closely when Budd faces former UFC champion and Bellator newcomer Cris Cyborg in January.

No matter who emerges the victor, Blencowe has no doubts she’s next in line for a shot at the coveted belt.

“I knew getting wins was what I needed, and I got two stoppage wins. I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for a third win by stoppage, but we also knew Leslie was a tough girl, she doesn’t go down easy,” Blencowe said.

“I think I’ve earned my spot to get anther shot at the title. If it’s Julia that would be awesome, I’ve got some redemption to do there, but Cyborg’s also another awesome fight, I’d love to stand in there and bang it out with her.”